CANADA RADIO HOST GHOMESHI’S WOMEN EXPLOITATION SCANDAL,
BUT HYPOCRISY ALL AROUND
By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them).
Canadian music and arts circles went into shock recently, when Jian Ghomeshi, CBC radio host of the popular show, “Q”, was first accused of having had non-consensual and abusive sex with women.
The immediate reaction of several in the arts community was to defend him or even dismiss it. But that changed, as more and more women came forward. When CBC was shown a graphic video of his practices, ironically by Ghomeshi’s own side, and he still defended those practices (he thought there was nothing wrong with his behavior, which shows how deep is his problem), CBC fired him.
Now those same people, who had so reactively defended him, have dropped him like a hot potato. After all, the icon and CBC poster boy had a hip following and was available on 170 stations in the States. But now, perhaps, like one of those school shooters, in hindsight, everyone now says, they’ve known for years he was “a little weird”.
But there’s hypocrisy all around. For what is the culture that allowed this predator to get away with it for, evidently, years? The Canadian music and arts circle is very small and incestuous and so is the CBC.
He had high ratings and always got the high-profile guests, Canadian and international. He was known for his opening essays (which it turned out he didn’t write) and it appears his whole image was more a creation by the organization for their star personality. In a place, like Canada, it carried a lot of power. Ghomeshi had the “right” coolness, the “right” supposedly cutting-edge tastes, the “right” political-correctness. He was, as well, hosting literary events like the prestigious Giller Book awards and giving out music prizes like The Polaris.
An atmosphere was created around him and nobody would dare say the “Emperor had no clothes”. Until when a brave woman finally came forward and said she had been forced and punched, several more said they had been abused too and there are likely more to come. He used his power and hipness to exploit women, even, perhaps, an Ottawa’s Carleton University journalism intern. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in the powerful business of our media-obsessed current society. David Letterman had a history of exploiting interns and had to publically apologize. Several BBC broadcasters, some even with children’s shows, have been accused of abuse.
Monica Lewinsky had said in a Vanity Fair article that even feminists had defended Bill Clinton, but she continues to be vilified and she points out the hypocrisy of that. Liberals were willing to look the other way, because they agreed with Clinton’s liberal policies. And they will do so again in the up-coming U.S. election in 2016, with the likelihood of Hillary Clinton running. Lewinsky has recently said, it had been consensual, but it was still a male in a high position of power (perhaps the most powerful-President of the U.S.) and a young woman intern. Bill Clinton had a long, long history of being a exploiter of women, but again, it’s dismissed by the hip crowd.
Ghomeshi did the same thing and had in Canadian society and media and liberal circles, that same kind of power, to which, so many turned a blind eye.
As I wrote in my first reaction to it just briefly on Facebook, I never liked the guy, for admittedly, so much of the political –correctness and hip adoration around him. My close friends, with whom I don’t always agree, felt the same. I couldn’t really describe why back then (and of course, we had no idea just how dark he was). I found his opening essays pseudo-profound and his shallow “humbleness” grating, but I was in the minority then.
I always wondered who decided what was trendy in pop music and culture. It seemed to be determined by a tiny group of critics and broadcasters, who parroted each other, in whom was to be promoted, and those artists were often part of the same cliques. This was international in the music business, but in Canada and Toronto too, they would jump on the latest bandwagon from England or the U.S., not wanting to appear not up-to-date. If you wanted to progress in your career, you followed. And Ghomeshi did so dutifully and his profile ascended.
I also mentioned in that original Facebook posting how I was in line at an Ottawa’s Writer’s Fest, 2 years ago, and got into a disagreement (friendly) with the woman behind me, over Ghomeshi. The irony is that several months later I ended up in a line-up for tickets for Paul McCartney’s 1st concert in Ottawa at 5:30 a.m. for four hours (something I’d never done before) and who’s right behind me but that same woman! She looked familiar and she thought I did too. When we realized, we both laughed, and she even let me kindly borrow her small stool for a while. We did manage to get tickets to the fastest-selling concert in Ottawa’s history, although many behind us didn’t. McCartney rocked still at ’71 years of age. I’d seen him before in ‘89 in Montreal. I had been interviewed on CBC radio about why The Beatles were still so popular earlier that weekend. I wonder what that lady thinks of Ghomeshi now, as so many others.
As for Ghomeshi, he clearly needs help. Interestingly, he had earlier released an autobiography about trying to fit in, with Iranian immigrant parents, in a suburb of Toronto. I don’t want to psychoanalyse him, but his idol as a teenager had been David Bowie, himself a master of constantly changing his persona with each musical product. Ghomeshi had learned, evidently, to play a role, and got so good at it and got accepted by Canada’s cool crowd even. But his narcissism caught up with him finally and he’s blown it. Unlike supreme politician, Bill Clinton, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to rebrand his image, and have people fall for his charms again. Not even a public apology and offer to go to celebrity rehab, will protect him. And he may well face criminal charges, as more victims come forward.
But it wouldn’t have happened so powerfully if there hadn’t been such god-like media Canadian adoration, and an incestuous, elitist music and politically-correct arts world around him.
So there’s lots of Hypocrisy All Around and that should be examined too, as well as shunning Ghomeshi.
SINCE I WROTE MY ARTICLE:
Toronto Star, Nov 1, 2014: Toronto Police Investigating Ghomeshi
A third woman is now being interviewed by the Toronto police sex-crimes unit as the criminal investigation into allegations of physical and sexual assault against fired CBC star Jian Ghomeshi expands.
Police are also investigating videos Ghomeshi showed his CBC bosses Oct. 23 containing “graphic evidence that Jian had caused physical injury to a woman.”
Ghomeshi — whose whereabouts are unknown — has not yet been interviewed, police said Saturday.
Meanwhile, other women who allege they were attacked by Ghomeshi continue to come forward. The Star has now heard of incidents dating back to his time as member of the band Moxy Früvous, and more allegations from his time as host of Play on CBC television and from his time as host of Q.
Huffington Post, Oct. 31, 2014: A lot of People Knew
In media and music circles, rumors have circulated for years about Ghomeshi. I’ve heard them. People I know and work with have heard them. People I know have been on dates with him. So yes, it was an open secret that there was something fishy about Mr. Ghomeshi. But I think, as is so often the case, many dismissed it as just another case of a powerful man with a taste for younger women.
Clearly many knew things were much more sinister than that. While most people I know have expressed surprise about the violence, it’s evident from the reaction on social media and in blog posts like “Do You Know About Jian” that many people knew much, much more. When the story first broke, most Canadians expressed disbelief and dismay while many in music and media exchanged knowing looks.
This is really becoming a huge part of the story now as we move beyond the “did he or didn’t he” part of the story and on to the “how the hell did we let this happen?” part. Because a lot of people in media and music are asking themselves that question right now and talking with their partners and co-workers about it. This story is truly triggering some soul-searching about how and why we dismiss the signs of abuse — “Oh, sure he’s a bit creepy but he’s great as his job.” “Oh, these women wouldn’t be with him if they didn’t think they could get something from him.” “Oh, it’s not worth making a fuss about this. It’s probably nothing and it’s not worth losing your job over.” The list goes on and on and on. If something good is going to come from this, it’s that it’s going to force our industry, and others, to really start to address the cultural and structural prejudices that could allow something like this to happen (allegedly).